The Art of Cooking

Jaime Oliver’s got nothing on me.

I admit that he’s good, and there’s nothing quite like snuggling up with my wife after a long week and indulging in one of his instructional Youtube videos from his younger years, but I think I’m the better chef because really, when’s the last time he had to share his kitchen with twenty or thirty children?

I am the soup chef this school year. Every Tuesday I chop, mix, and blend a soup for the Kindergarten. The ingredients vary slightly from week to week, but usually  the soup consists of butternut squash, carrots, potatoes, sweet potato, cauliflower, leeks, and lentils. As the children are arriving in the morning, I begin with a vegetable stock, and then with the help of the children, we chop up the veggies. In sensible fashion, we toss in the dense butternut first, followed by the potatoes, carrots, leeks, and just before blending it, finish up with the lentils. My secret touch involves going outside to the garden and cut a few leaves of sage as well as some thyme. I feel this brings a delicate touch of sophistication to the meal, a touch that the children need for their culinary development. Together with freshly baked bread and a finishing course of freshly chopped fruit, we all leave the table happy and satisfied.

Last Tuesday I started prepping the afternoon snack. It consisted of halved Beechtree bread (one of these posts I intend to share the recipe) with an olive-based spread and pear and apple jam. One child became intrigued and wanted to help, so I asked that she wash her hands and select an apron to put on. Within minutes five children were lined up shoulder to shoulder smearing the olive spread, and then the jam on each of the pieces of bread. There was concentration, smiles, and jam everywhere, but I think I can say with conviction that the overarching feeling was unanimous in that it was the best snack ever!